Southern Sixer Hike – Waterrock Knob

My buddy Andy and I hiked up Waterrock Knob in January on a misty day. We had hoped to get some snow but we found mist instead, which is always cool. I don’t have a picture of myself on the summit, but I a picture of a the end of the knob with some fog which I thought was cool and moody. We hung out on top for a while, taking pictures of the mist and the plants. We were the only ones up there for a while, which is always a nice treat!

— J. Davison

“For Love of Beer & Mountains” Southern Sixer Challenge Kickoff!

Last Saturday, we led our first guided Southern Sixer hike to the summit of a peak above 6,000 feet. For this “For Love of Beer and Mountains” Southern Sixer Challenge Kickoff, we traveled to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to climb Mount Kephart, named after Horace Kephart, who played a major role during the early years of the park. We were fortunate to be greeted by a majestic herd of elk both on the way into the park and at the end of the day!

While the summit of Mount Kephart doesn’t afford spectacular views, you can continue just a quarter mile further to “The Jumpoff,” the top of a 1,000 foot sheer cliff on the side of the mountain that provides views for miles to the east. From this vantage point we could see back towards SAHC’s Smoky Mountains focus areas, where we work to conserve land adjoining the national park, creating a buffer for wildlife and helping preserve viewsheds in this unique landscape.

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Full Moon Night Hike

An intrepid group of hikers braved the fierce February wind to enjoy a night hike at our recently protected Flatwoods Pasture property. This scenic property added about 145 acres to the over 10,000 acres SAHC has helped protect in the greater Sandy Mush landscape, and we intend for it to continue being grazed, thus remaining active farmland. We were joined on this hike by Christian Hunt of Defenders of Wildlife, who discussed red wolf recovery efforts and challenges. At the end of the night, the group all gave our best red wolf howl to the February Snow Moon! Read more

Christmount Hike

Last Saturday, SAHC led our first guided hike of 2017 through the protected woods of our 400-acre conservation easement at Christmount. The weather was lovely, with a clear blue winter sky, allowing for beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Black Mountains. Hikers had a chance to learn about the connected landscape of protected lands in the region and to see other places SAHC has worked to protect, including the Montreat Wilderness and our Laurel Ridge preserve. Read more

Cedar Creek Hike

img_3252On Saturday, November 12th, we hosted a hike on our lovely 600-acre Webb Conservation Easement near Panthertown Valley in Jackson County. This beautiful property is bounded on the north side by Cedar Creek, a high quality tributary flowing into Webb Lake, which provides habitat for native brook trout. All water on the property eventually drains into the West Fork of the Tuckaseegee River, and on into the Little Tennessee River.

On the day of the hike, we were met at the property by members of the Webb family who own the property – Billy, Jimmy, and Jean Webb, as well as Julia Gaskin. The family introduced themselves briefly, and Billy, Jimmy, and Julia accompanied us on the hike. Read more

Winter Tree I.D. Hike – Rough Creek

winter-tree-id-groupEarlier this winter, naturalist Luke Cannon joined SAHC hikers to explore the beautiful Rough Creek Watershed in Canton, NC. In 2003, a conservation easement was placed on the watershed in a joint effort by SAHC and the State of North Carolina to protect 870 acres of near-pristine ecosystems and close to seven miles of streams containing water of outstanding quality. This large tract of land encompasses 12 distinct plant communities, and we hiked primarily through the predominating Rich and Acidic Cove Forests and Montane-Oak Hickory Forest. Read more

“For Love of Beer & Mountains” Lost Cove Excursion

IMG_2628Late this summer, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Highland Brewing Company were joined by The Aloft Hotel, Altamont Environmental, Traveling Chic Boutique and USA Raft to explore Lost Cove, where SAHC protected a 95-acre tract in 2012. We hiked into the gorge and rafted the Nolichucky River while learning about the historical significance of the area. Read more

Headwaters Exploration

SAHC-23_Group High Quality2_brightenedTucked away in the hills of Black Mountain, NC, lies the headwaters of the Catawba River and the popular hiking destination, Catawba Falls. During the last week of May, we had the pleasure of leading a group of hikers to the upper portion of Catawba Falls, a rarely visited section of this favorite waterfall spot. Most hikers access Catawba Falls from the bottom and rarely see the upper portion of the falls, but we were able to gain access to this unique route by beginning the hike on a tract on which SAHC holds a conservation easement. This particular property in Black Mountain is a real favorite, for its incredible plant diversity, high water quality and most notably the headwaters of the Catawba River. Read more

Looking Back: June Jamboree 2015

paxanddadThanks to everyone who joined us for the June Jamboree this summer! As we prepare to bid adieu to our Project Conserve AmeriCorps Conservation Education and Volunteer Associate, Kana Miller, we’d like to share her account from the day:

“Organizing the June Jamboree was like the grand finale of my experience with SAHC; it tested all the skills I’ve honed leading the outreach program. With five different hikes in one day on the Roan Massif, and close to 100 people participating, it’s a big event to organize — but for me, this year’s June Jamboree proved to be nothing but rewarding!” Read more

“Human Health and Connection to Nature” – OM Sanctuary

trailhead_bestOshun Mountain (OM) Sanctuary in Asheville, NC, founded in 2012, is a non-profit holistic education and nature-sensitive retreat center that offers overnight stays, classes, lectures, trainings and other programs.

After three years of dedicated effort, OM Sanctuary’s 42-acre urban forest was recently protected by a conservation easement with SAHC. Overlooking the French Broad River, Interstate 26, and Riverside drive, the easement protects a bluff containing cove forest, oak forest, and low montane pine forest with mixed hardwoods. The tract also contains pools in the river floodplain that provide likely habitat for wildlife like salamanders, amphibians and reptiles. Read more